SUBJECT :S Vijayakumar, District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) secretary, said nowadays tourists arriving in state look for activity-based tourism packages. 

Beachgoers stroll along the Fort Kochi beach

By Toby Antony

Kochi, January 20, 2019: Tourism authorities are now focusing on Ernakulam which is to be turned into a major water tourism destination on the lines of neighbouring Alappuzha. The Tourism Department is trying to milk the district, blessed with sun-kissed beaches, backwaters and rivers, for all its worth as part of the efforts to make it the state’s water tourism hub.

S Vijayakumar, District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) secretary, said nowadays tourists arriving in state look for activity-based tourism packages.

“Gone are the days when tourists came to the state and spent time in resorts. So the water tourism in the district has enough potential to attract tourists. We are developing, Kadamakuddy tourism. There are beach-related tourism activities in Cherai. Kayaking facilities are there at the Queen’s Walkway in Kochi. Then we will have the Snake Boat races from 2019. We can connect all these destination and activities to promote water tourism packages among both domestic and foreign tourists,” he said.

Kadamakudy project is an ambitious project under the government’s consideration. All the 14 islands surrounding Kadamakuddy panchayat will be developed into eco-tourism destinations.  CIAL model project development and funding have been planned for the project.

The project also aims to bring in houseboats to Kochi. The government only has to spend Rs 5 crore on developing basic infrastructure.

“Unlike in Alappuzha, Ernakulam despite having a long stretch of backwaters does not have houseboats operating in the district.  Kadamukuddy tourism will have houseboat terminal. Similarly, there will be enough activities in the islands. So the tourists can stay back for a couple of days,” he said.

At Cherai, numerous water sports activities are functional. The Tourism Department is also developing a beach corridor which links nine beaches from Vypeen to Cherai. Similarly, kayaking facility is already available at Queen’s Walkway in Kochi.

The tourists will also be given the necessary training to handle kayaks. The Indira Gandhi Boat Race will be included in the 2019 Snake Boat League.

“The theme of Kerala Tourism is ‘Come out and Play’. We want to attract youth from abroad and other states to enjoy the activities in Kerala. They can stay back here for several days and experience life here,” he said.

Ernakulam is already a popular tourist destination, with 37, 39,061 visiting the district in 2017 and 5, 08,493 tourists visiting Alappuzha. Among the tourist arrivals in Ernakulam, foreign nationals made up 4, 53,973 and domestic tourists comprised 32, 85,088.